It is important to track your marketing campaigns for a whole myriad of reasons. But above all, without doing so, it can be very difficult to prove a positive ROI, which may result in marketing budgets being cut. Similarly, tracking campaigns is the only way to be sure of what works, what does not and which channels are producing the best results.
Knowing this information allows you and your search agency to reduce wasted money on ineffective campaigns and channels, while simultaneously allowing you to invest more in the campaigns and channels that are performing well. However, there are some common mistakes with campaign tracking you could avoid, as these may produce results that do not add up.
1. You Are Only Tracking Conversions
One of the single biggest mistakes marketers make when it comes to tracking their results is focusing solely on the number of conversions, without paying attention to precisely where clicks are coming from. This can mean they end up wasting time and money on useless channels that could be better spent on valuable ones.
“Sometimes a channel just might not work, and you won’t know that unless you are tracking,” says Milena Mitova, writing for Digital Doughnut. “If a channel is not a fit, this means that you can stop using it for this particular campaign and save time by not having to create extra social posts.”
Tactically, website owners who wish to have a clearer picture with regards to channels performance, should sign up to the free version of Google Analytics and set their conversion goals on the platform. Every month (or week depending on feedback needed), they should review the Channel report (in Acquisition) or for a more granular overview, take a look at the Source/ Medium report. These two simple reports give a great overview of key metrics and conversion goals (and numbers) and should help you decide on the channels you should focus on for conversions.
However, you should assess and decide on the type of conversion each channel is most suitable for before setting goals. For instance, if we take the example of an on-line retailer, social channels might not bring many sales, but they might generate lots of reviews, which will in turn influence sales numbers on the website or on Google Shopping for instance. Conversions come in all shapes and sizes- and above all value- so it is important to go through and cover all of them. It might be difficult to assign a value to non-transactional conversions (such as reviews or form submissions) but it is worth spending time working out how much non-monetary conversions are worth to the business. Eventually, they will affect or influence sales so you need to understand their worth to establish a solid digital marketing strategy.
2. You Aren’t Tagging All Paid Search Campaigns
It is surprisingly common for marketers to forget to add campaign tracking tags to their paid search adverts. When this happens, visits from paid search campaigns can show up in your campaign analytics as being organic, giving you a false idea of how much organic traffic you are attracting, while underplaying the importance of paid search ads.
Within Google AdWords, this has a very simple fix, in that you simply need to turn the auto tagging feature on. For paid search advertising outside of AdWords, you will need to manually add UTM tags. If you are relying on SEO outsourcing, make sure your chosen SEO company is doing this for you.
3. You Are Forgetting to Track Email
Another frequent mistake occurs when marketers fail to include UTM tags in the URLs sent to people through email marketing. As a consequence, a lot of the traffic generated in this way is classed as generic or direct traffic, which can make it impossible to know how well your emails are actually performing.
This can be especially problematic with mobile or tablet visits to your website originating from email marketing because mobile devices often have problems with the passing of referral data.
4. You Are Only Using Basic Social Media Tracking
Finally, many marketers fail to add tracking tags to the URLs of campaigns posted on social media, assuming that tools like Google Analytics will automatically track them. While this is partially true, these tools will not break down individual campaigns by platform, or tell you exactly which links are being clicked on each platform.
“Social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook…and so forth in your referral sources can encompass a wide variety of things,” says Kristi Hines for Kissmetrics. “One thing you might want to distinguish [with UTM tags] is when a person has come to your site from a social media site via the link on your profile vs. from links in status updates.”
On another note, social media tracking is key to understand which campaign, message, event, product/ service launch, etc. is performing best against your goals. Ideally, campaigns promoting blog posts should be tracked individually, you should also create a campaign and tag for monthly curated content promotion and separate campaigns and tags for launches, in-house news, PR etc. This granular data will be invaluable in order to understand what makes your audiences’ tick and what doesn’t.
To conclude, I believe that it is a good idea to adopt a systematic approach to campaign tracking by including simple checks and steps in your digital strategy. This will ensure that it is someone’s responsibility to test tracking parameters across various channels on a regular basis, as well update your analytics platform tags whenever needed. Depending on the type of business, it is also important to check that your goals for each channel are clear and can be tracked accurately. This will guarantee that reports are relevant and have the necessary data to make key decisions and take the business forward.